Seven major concerns, two pieces of good news about DC's "Rebirth", and more from my notes from ComicsPRO's annual meeting -- available at Comic Book Resources. Thoughts? (Yeah, the Monday posting was a surprise to me as well)
Seven major concerns, two pieces of good news about DC's "Rebirth", and more from my notes from ComicsPRO's annual meeting -- available at Comic Book Resources. Thoughts? (Yeah, the Monday posting was a surprise to me as well)
Yes, okay! As always, I have nothing clever to say in this space, but unlike always, I'm not going to waste your time saying it. I've got show notes with images! Links! Prizes! (There are no prizes!) Torrid confessions! (There probably will not be any torrid confessions.)
After the jump: Show Note Machine...Go!
0:00-25:22: Bemoaning the fact that we're not nearly as organized as other podcasts, Graeme makes a prediction about we'll be talking about this episode as a way of introducing this episode to listeners. This allows me to retool a favorite aphorism here in the show notes: "If you want to make God laugh, introduce a podcast." It leads right into our first order of business: talking about the latest crazy developments in DC's 3-D cover event. If you've already read Hibbs' post about this already, you'll be a step ahead of most of the points Jeff makes here, although he does bring his own unique tin foil hat spin to the situation. Also covered, the recent decision in Kirby v. Marvel, what it means to "hamburger a muffin" and the opening of a new Salt & Straw right near Graeme. Verily, this is the Mighty Wait, What? Age of Golden Epicureanism! 25:22-34:07: Also on a non-comics tip, Stephen Colbert and Bryan Cranston, which famous people we've been compared to, the Adult BMI guidelines, Tarder Sauce, and more. 34:07-45:37: Todd McFarlane, Len Wein and Gerry Conway discussing sexism and comic books! which we discuss without the context provided by some later tweets made by Conway. And who is…. the Billy Joel of comics? Find out here, along with a torrid confession from Jeff! (Oh, okay, so there was one of those, after all. Huh.) 45:37-58:05: And in this week's installment of "Welcome to Jeff's Big Basket of Sour Grapes," Jeff talks about a Twitter exchange between Rob Liefeld and Erik Larsen and their consideration of comic book criticism. Graeme, trying to bring the sense, just ends up bouncing the ball of generosity off Jeff's ungenerous blockhead for an impressively long time. 58:05-1:04:00: Also, under discussion, Mark Millar's comments about rape. You probably can imagine our reaction to that one but...maybe not? 1:04:00-1:21:40: And now it's time to talk about some comics we've read -- a little bit about AvX (and the kindness and generosity of the Whatnauts), but also a lot about the genius that is Rogue Trooper and Cat Shit One. This leads to our we-might-as-well-make-it-official-and-call-it-weekly discussion about 2000 A.D., which in turn leads to discussion about comic book covers, which in turn leads to Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, 1:21:40-1:26:08: Jack Kirby's In The Days Of The Mob! It is available! It is…not cheap! Not cheap at all! 1:26:08-1:27:21: Copra Compendium (which I can't say aloud without thinking of Weird Al-esque lyrics set to "Copacabana" which is probably why I probably called it Copra Companion half the time) Vol. 2! Jeff loves this like burning, worries that Graeme may not. But either way, there is so much lovely stuff, including the panel shown below and discussed in this podcast:
1:27:21-1:31:33: That inspires Graeme to talk about Lynn Varley, Trevor Von Eeden, and the Kickstarter the latter is running with Don McGregor for Sabre: The Early Future Years. 1:31:33-1:34:12: Graeme has read Cartozia Tales, the shared fantasy universe featuring some outstanding work by Jen Vaughn, Jon Lewis, Dylan Horrocks, and more. 1:34:12-1:38:34: Trilium #1 by Jeff Lemire. We've both read it. We both discuss it. 1:38:34-1:41:55: Jeff fumbles and bumbles through some display problems to try and convey how much he digs Jaco the Galactic Patrolman by Akira Toriyama, as well as Toriyama's brilliantly dopey pre-Dragonball series, Dr. Slump. One of the panels Jeff discusses super-briefly is this one:
1:41:55-1:45:04: The first collection of Talon from DC! Did Graeme like it almost as much as Jeff likes Toriyama…or even more than Jeff likes Toriyama? Tune in and find out. 1:45:04-1:52:08: The final volume of Bakuman is out, which is very bittersweet for Jeff. Despite the frustrations with how Viz has handled publication of this manga (and the generally anticlimactic nature of the last volume), man of man, Jeff is going to miss that series. 1:52:08-end: Closing comments! Graeme makes it sound like we won't be back next week but we will! (I think.)
See, look at all that. Links! Images! Torrid confessions. (Well, a torrid confession.) Nice, eh? So you should go hear it! It is on iTunes -- eventually -- and it is here for your convenience:
As always, we thank you for listening and hope you enjoy! (Now if you excuse me, I have a new chapter of Jaco The Galactic Patrolman to go read....)
I've already written a great number of words on the subject of next month's DC "Villain month" cover stunt, and I suggest that you follow that link for some reasoned background. Sadly, the real villain of the month is DC Entertainment. As some of you might know (though, not it would seem, from the actual comics press: CBR, Robot 6, The Beat, The Reporter, I'm not finding a single link as I write this at 8:30 in the AM the day after the announcement) DC announced that each and every 3D cover is going to be allocated, and that they're doing a same-day 2D reprint for $1 less.... oh, and by the way, that's the digital price as well.
Below the jump you'll find a much fuller reaction to this latest news, as well as the actual words from DCE -- click through!
So, there's this press release that DC sent out.... that I don't have a copy of because something is wrong with my emails from DC (and ONLY DC) in the last few weeks. This is (mostly) my own problem, and I am on top of shit enough to have found it, but I think that this shows the perils of not putting out information through the "normal" channels: not EVERY retail customer of DC's is getting ALL of the information through other channels.
Here's the press release, join me after it.
Due to unprecedented demand for the September 3-D motion covers, DC Entertainment announces that orders on the 52 Villains Month issues will be allocated. These issues are now sold out at the publisher level.
Now, each 3-D motion cover issue will have a Standard Edition with a 2-D cover, priced at $2.99 US. The Standard Editions are scheduled to arrive in stores on the same day as the 3-D editions, starting with titles on FOC starting August 6 and closing on August 12, which will arrive in stores on September 4.
In addition, the entire run of 3-D motion covers will return in December in the Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set. This item is on FOC on August 12; see below for details.
“Because of the time needed to create the 3-D motion covers, we were forced to set September print runs much further in advance than we normally would,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “As we got close to the FOC dates, even though we were very aggressive with our sales forecasts for the 3-D editions, it was clear that orders for these issues were going to be greater than the quantities we had printed. Once we saw from the first 3-D edition FOCs that we were oversold on initial orders, we decided to institute a system across the entire 3-D line that was in accord with previous retailers' ordering patterns to minimize the impact of fringe speculators."
“It’s very exciting to see how much interest there is in these 3-D covers, which are latest in a long line of innovations from DCE, like the fold-out poster in Superman Unchained #1 or the die-cut covers from the Death of the Family issues," said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. "Our goal every September has been to create great, new ways to draw attention to our entire DC universe line and the reaction to Villains Month capped by the launch of our first universe event 'Forever Evil' has been just incredible."
The allocations will range from approximately 50% to nearly 100% on different titles. The allocations are based on an average of your orders of each Villains Month titles’ base title over the past few months.
Like the 3-D motion cover versions, the Standard Editions will be first printings of each title.
To give retailers as much time as possible to focus on ordering the Standard Editions and the 3-D Motion Complete Sets, retailers will no longer need to place FOC orders for the 3-D editions for the remaining weeks in August—therefore, the 3-D motion cover issues scheduled to arrive in stores on September 11, September 18 and September 25 will not be listed on FOC.
Retailers will receive an email from Diamond detailing their allocations on each 3-D motion cover edition before the Standard Editions’ FOC date, and should check their allocation on each 3-D issue carefully.
Retailers should watch their FOC lists in the coming weeks for the Standard Editions of all 52 Villains Month issues.
Please note that the digital versions of these issues do not have 3-D Motion Covers. Like the Standard Editions, the digital editions are priced at $2.99 US and will be available for download the same day the 3-D and 2-D print editions ship to stores.
Retailers who wish to decrease their orders on any of the 3-D motion cover issues should contact their Diamond Customer Service Representative or DC Sales Representative. DC’s red-hot 3-D motion covers are set to return in December in the new Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set! This set will include second printings of all 52 Villains Month titles with the 3-D motion covers plus the Forever Evil #1 3-D Motion Cover Variant Edition. (Standard Edition cover shown.)
The Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set (JUN138292) will be on FOC on August 12, and is scheduled to arrive in stores on December 11 with a price of $199.99 US.
Please note that because of the longer than normal production time needed to print 3-D motion covers, this is the soonest they can arrive in stores. The issues included in this set will be printed to order; they will not be allocated. Covers in this set, including Forever Evil #1, will be labeled “second printing.”
And don’t forget to order the DC Comics—The New 52 Villains Omnibus HC (AUG130289), which has its own 3-D motion dust jacket and is scheduled to arrive in stores on December 11.
So, let's unpack this a bit:
ALL DC comics are order adjustable three weeks before shipping through a process called "Final Order Cutoff" (or FOC). Seriously, each and every product DC offers goes through this process... and, this is important for later, there are a reasonable number of retailers who only put in "placeholder" for "1" copy at their "initial" order -- because DC (and Marvel and Dark Horse and Image and IDW and Dynamite and Boom!) have spent YEARS telling us that FOC is the only order that actually matters.
So, to cancel FOC (and to do so retroactively for at least one of the weeks of this stunt that we've already FOCed) is, at the very least, morally suspect, and is possibly illegal (I'd have to read the Terms of Sale closely)
As I noted in the original piece, even if YOU are an "every Wednesday" guy, that doesn't actually describe the majority of periodical purchasers -- it takes 12+ weeks to contact ALL of them (and even there, "all" is like hand grenades -- "close enough")
Now, at my store at least, the process of taking, placing and filling subber orders involves a LEGAL CONTRACT. In other words, I CAN NOT take orders for 3-D versions and fill those orders with 2-D versions instead. I could be sued for that (though, the ODDS of that happening are laughingly remote, but then that's what they said about a retailer suing Marvel comics....)
We put an enormous amount of effort into trying to educate customers about the 3-D covers, the importance of preordering them, and so on. You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren't at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of "talking people into" signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there's suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.
See, if there had been ANY official and public information that this was going to happen, that there would be two versions, that these books could be allocated, the way I presented this to my customers for the last 8 weeks would have been ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.
Let me be clear here: I loath speculators, I think that collecting comics for value alone is the work of both the moron and the devil, I think that multiple covers on single stories is purely a way to trick and exploit you the consumer, and to prey upon the lowest and basest instincts and compulsions of the customer base. I think it shows contempt for you.
I run a comic book store that is much more like a book store, and we have active policies explicitly against this kind of game-playing -- things like "no variant covers whatsoever unless they are explicitly requested by the customer in advance of FOC" and so on, and yet I now believe that I have been tricked into going "all in" on a variant cover scheme promotion with an obvious bait-and-switch that I otherwise would have never have participated in if the rules had been explained whatsoever.
Understand this as well: there has been NO official communication -- no email, no FAQ, no blog post, no press release, no solicitation, nothing -- NO official communication whatsoever from DC Entertainment until this moment, three weeks before the books ship, about ANY of this.
Now, yes, if you read Rich Johnston (and many of us do) you've gotten a game of "telephone" version of what seems to have happened in the meetings (Ex: Rich reported it was said that DC was "losing money" on every copy; this appears to actually be "making a smaller profit on each copy"), but DCE never told the other (I'm guessing something on the order of) 2600 retailers who COULDN'T attend one of those meetings a damn thing about even the POSSIBILTY of allocations until after 5 pm yesterday.
So, this means that there ARE retailers out there that have been happily and aggressively promoting this stunt, racking up big preorders, selling full sets in advance of shipment, in some cases EVEN COLLECTING MONEY from consumers, all the while DCE didn't officially or formally tell the retail community that these could be allocated. Whoops!
(Also: once you put "could be" in there? You are ASSURING that it is instead "Will Be")
And some of the people who have been earnestly promoting this are also the same people who put down "1" for their initial orders just like the industry has trained them to. What will these people receive? Tune in on Friday to find out!
So, now this isn't just speculator book, it is out-and-out feeding frenzy at the trough as stores will be unable to fufill 100% of the commitments that they made causes a rippling panic throughout just enough of the customer base that even stores that "get it right" are going to be trampled by people panicking/looking to cash in.
The release says that the allocation will have a relationship to rolling orders of the "parent" title, which I think means that if I ordered 60, 63, 75, 61 on the last four issues of BATMAN, then I won't be allocated on the first 64 copies of JOKER, RIDDLER, PENGUIN, and BANE, though that's far from explicit.
One potential problem with this scheme is SETS, which is well represented by this:
|GREEN ARROW #21||
That's a big gap between "parent" titles, and it seems very likely that there are going to be too many gaps in full sets for a number of retailers.
Then there's "so just HOW do we order the 2d versions, with zero time to gather data?" that breaks the paradigm of the Direct Market in many ways, and, what is worse, is that by letting DC get away with this we've just assured that Marvel is going to think of an even bigger way to stunt/no solicit manipulate the market, because it is simply what these companies do.
Ordering an entire month's worth of variant editions, that are priced cheaper, with no ability to solicit orders, this is a mug's game -- there's NO WAY to get it right. Either you'll be horribly over or horribly under, in either case failing our primary mission: to satisfy our customer's demand while remaining profitable doing so.
Do you understand? DCE had us collect fake data, based on fake behavioral inputs (price, etc), data that would have ABSOLUTELY have changed (and probably for the BETTER) if they had told us the actual facts in the first place. A comics retailer's job IS data.
This is the comics equivalent of Lucy yanking the football at the last second from poor Charlie Brown. As I thought every time Lucy did it, I think it here: what a fucked up thing to do.
I thought for a second, "Well, shit, I'm already all-in, I can just skip the 2-Ds", but, no, DC is keeping with their "all in" on Digital, and is making digital price parity with the cheaper version, of course, so just defensively we've got to stock both versions.
The worst part of this is that it will be claimed as victory, regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another, because it WILL be successful financially. DC isn't publishing all of their shit-selling titles during the month -- and shit-selling titles is most of what the bottom 30 or so of DC's books are these days, and they have pretty much guaranteed that the +$1 versions will be specul-leech bait. I'm probably going to make a LOT more money that month on DCE Product than any other month this year, but my problem is two-fold:
1) THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT TO MAKE MONEY. I resent being tricked into carrying two copies of every release for the month, I resent that it will play on my more OCD customer's worst habits, and that I've been railroaded into participating in it, I resent all of the insanely stupid extra work this is unnecessarily cause me in trying to track and pick and manage the two versions, work that exists purely because THEY DIDN'T TELL US THE RULES.
2) IT LEADS TO NOTHING. Great, so OCD-guy will now give me $6.98 instead of just $3.99 for that issue of PENGUIN, but how does that lead to a sale NEXT month? Let alone next year? I have limited promotional time and space, and I've been selling a bill of goods that didn't actually represent what the product really was adequately, and doesn't move forward my goals as a retailer, and I've done so because they misrepresented what the product actually was. That's shameful.
Yeah, so the DC "Zero month", hows that working out?
(I know this is lazy bloggery, finding an easy theme and going from there, but in my defense it took me longer to write the Tilting than I thought it was going to take, and I gave Kimbrough the weekend, so I've been working a crazy lot recently. I'm sleepy!)
One thing I'm not going to do is be all dumb and try to review each and every one of these comics -- my head still aches from doing that with the #1s. So, just overviewy time, I think. Let's start with some new books?
PHANTOM STRANGER #0: There are some characters -- like, say, Wolverine -- who stay much more interesting when there're bits of them shrouded in mystery. Knowing that ol' Logan used to be a foppish little child who wore a night dress... well it kind of diminishes him, I think. Much the same with the Phantom Stranger, whose very appeal IS IN HIS NAME. "I...am a stranger."
So, turning him (actually) into Judas Iscariot (with his trademark '70s love-disk necklace becoming the literal 30 pieces of silver) is... well, ill-considered, at best, right?
What you need to remember is that when there was an issue of "Secret Origins" about The Phantom Stranger in the 80s, DC was clever enough to give him four different possible origins. That's smart, and really kind of amusing really. But, no, today we need to be all literal. Ugh.
It's a bad idea though to really underline that both the God of the Old Testament and the "Council of Wizards" on display here who are handing out apparently handing out god-like powers and conditions and, like, the Greco-Roman pantheons all exist in the same world. You CAN make it work, but mostly by God being indirect, but in this first issue we're already well off the rails, as Dan Didio conflates The Phantom Strangers origin with that of The Spectre. Oh boy.
So, follow along: PS *is* Judas, condemned to "walk this land until the debt for your sins is paid". And, when PS levels up, one of the thirty pieces of silver drops from his chain. (!)
So, let's think about the storytelling problems with this set-up.
First and foremost, "Redeeming Judas" is a fairly distasteful Plot -- 30 level-ups and PS is forgiven for killing the Son of God, really? We're going to make Adolph Hitler the next Green Lantern, next? Yikes!
The second problem is that PS' first level-up comes from encouraging Jimmy Corrigan along a path that makes him The Spectre. In other words, he earns his first level-up from essentially *betraying* Corrigan, not helping him. This version of God is a supremely large asshole, doncha think? Didio tries to kind of be coy about the involvement of God by being all "I'm not sure whose Voice it really is", but this is all put to a lie at the end when the Voice clearly has the power to not only create, but to control The Spectre.
Theologically, cosmologically, this thing is just a horrid mess -- it feels like the kind of idea come up with at 3 in the morning, the night before your solicitation copy is due, when someone panics and points out that someone counted wrong, and you only have 51 books in the third wave. It's just possible that maybe, the setup could be messaged to make work, but it would take a much more skilled writer than Didio to rise above the errors of the plot.
Brent Anderson's art is nice, of course, but otherwise this comic is a fairly insane mess. Flatly AWFUL.
TEAM 7 #0: Here's a book whose premise I really don't understand: is it meant to be permanently set in the past? It's a "flashback" series? That won't work, not with these characters, at least... ugh, and my first week sales really show that (3 copies only? ruh roh). Wow, I'll be selling zero copies by issue #6 for certain.
The problem is, kinda, that this is retarded: they won't tell us the backstories of, say, the JLA in the "five year gap", but they want people to buy a team that includes Grifter and Deathstroke... characters in the bottom 20% of DC sales? And that it is a mixed hybrid of WS and DCU at that? Ew. It's all guns and ammo pouches and belts and shoulder pads... and really nothing that almost anyone in the modern audience is really interested in at all.
The other problem is there are at least 9 team members introduced in this first issue (but only seven on the cover, so guessing a few of those are introduced-to-die), plus "control" from Lynch -- and introducing all of THAT doesn't leave any room for, y'know, actual plot.
I'm giving this a Thumbs Down, but from pure craft, it's not any worse than OK.
EARTH 2 #0: I was really wondering how the LAST wave of books was going to work, considering they had just started and all that, and here's one answer: it feels like James Robinson had no idea what to do with this interruption to his world building -- most of this issue is really just a minor redo of issue #1, now with more Terry Sloan. Pity, I was groovin' on this until now. OK.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #0: Some of these books are playing "fast and loose" with continuity, and this one might be a good example: Guy Gardner has a TOTALLY different origin here than in the original comics -- here, he's the fully trained sector partner of Hal Jordan, plus he's a failed cop from a family of cops. In the original, Guy was a gym teacher who missed being a GL by a few feet, geographically, then was rescued from a coma by a rogue Guardian during the first Crisis. So... I guess none of those Englehart/Staton issues actually happened, then? But... if none of that happened, then... how did Hal ultimately go nuts, and become Parallax, which lead to the Rebirth, which lead to the Blackest Night? Add that to the other characters that couldn't have participated in that story, then how was GL #1 a follow-up to Brightest Day? Oh god, oh god, my head hurts! THIS is why the "five year gap" simply doesn't work -- you tug on one thread and all of a sudden all of the rest of it falls apart.
If you want a laugh (or maybe I'm the only one who is laughing), go look up the Wiki page for Guy Gardner and watch how BOTH his pre- and post-DCnU are expressed on the page, jumping back and forth between them paragraph by paragraph. Silly.
This new origin is pretty EH -- it makes Guy Just Another Corpsman, rather than the complex contradiction he used to be. Oh Well.
GREEN LANTERN #0: It's actually kind of nice to read a #0 that's contemporary, AND an origin, AND will be followed up directly next month. The new GL is Muslim-American -- how timely. And, of course, his "origin" involves 9/11 and being mistaken for a terrorist. OF COURSE.
And, sure, 9/11. 2001. Which is made explicit in GL #0, since it's more than 10 years ago, by captions. But, of course, BATMAN #0 takes place "six years ago"... making Bruce and Kal and everything else explicitly post-"War on Terror" and, Jesus, doesn't THAT change the characters dramatically? And that, folks, is why you NEVER tie superhero comics to explicit dates or historical events -- my son was 3 years old when the JLA started? *headsplode*
Anyway, back to GL -- I'm pretty cool with this new setup, except for the cover, I think -- why does the muslim GL have to wear a gimp mask and carry a gun (!) when he's got a MAGIC WISHING RING on the end of his fist? Why wear a mask like that when your EXTREMELY DISTINCTIVE tattoo is all lit up in green light?
But, even with all of that, this COULD work... if only GL didn't launch into a four-month, four-book crossover next month. *sigh*
Even with all that, I kind of thought it was a low GOOD.
BATMAN #0: As I noted before, this goes the furthest back in the "near past", set SIX years ago. But, I think this might have been one of the most effective #0s I've read so far as it really did try to add to the legend of Batman, showing us something we've never seen before, with pre-costume batman-ing. And, I frankly loved the backup story (mostly from the art by Andy Clarke), even with the whole Jason's-an-accessory-to-murder bit (which is reasonably fine with his character) -- so, yeah, I'm going to say this one is VERY GOOD, even if the timeline makes zero sense.
OK, books almost arriving today, I'm out of time... as always, what did YOU think?
Next week starts month #13 for the DCnu, so maybe it's a good moment to take stock? Surprisingly, yes, it is, with what they shipped this week!
The star of the last week of the first year is, without question, Geoff Johns, as he has no less than four comics that has his name on them shipping. Yowsa!
Double Yowsa, two of those comics missed their master-planned ship weeks, it must be awesome to be one of the bosses!
AQUAMAN #12: So, here's the thing: here we are at issue #12, and I couldn't tell you one more thing about Aquaman than I could from #1 -- he's pissed off. That's about that. This year has been fairly alright at giving Aquaman reasons to be pissed off, starting with the laughter of the civilians, the treachery of Mera's people, Black Manta, and so on -- but that's not actually characterization; that's just pushback.
Then there's the terrible, casual violence. I mean, I know, I shouldn't be surprised by violence in a Geoff Johns comic, I guess, but, yow, Arthur just whips his trident at Faceless Hood #302, totally gutting him. Ew. And totally 100% gratuitous.
I don't hate reading this comic, or anything, but if I didn't own a comic shop and have the ability to read what I like for free, I'd never have made it to the end of this first year, that's certain. This comic is very EH.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #12: On an individual comics level, I thought this was a reasonable enough production -- probably GOOD, even -- but it's so beastly difficult to divorce reading this comic from the meta-narrative of the DC Universe, because this goes against just about everything that I want from this group of characters. They're odd and clumsy and unsure, but not in an endearing "We'll strive to get better!" kind of way, but in an uncomfortable and tortured way. And I just don't think that suits these characters. That's a Marvel thing -- Superman, at the fifth year of his career should not be be a doubting, brooding alien. "Oh....sometimes, I feel... so.... alone!" Jesus, no, that's not Superman. More on him later, I guess.
Same with Wonder Woman, who seems like an entirely different creature than the one in her own book. Then there's the teaser for "Justice League of America", which looks like "Justice League Extreme" to me. Ugh, way too soon for the spinoff, especially one with a market-confusing name like that.
Either way, I just don't like these characters as presented in this comic book, even though it's of a reasonably professional quality.
GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1: Now, this is really a model of how an annual should be -- it's the culmination of the last year of story, in all ways. THIS is GL #13, and sets off a new status quo for the book for a smidge at least.
Much like JL, I really don't like what is happening in this comic -- especially everything related to the Guardians of the Galaxy, where I think that they're getting dangerously close to actually breaking the franchise here with the "everything you knew was a lie!" stuff going on here -- but it done with solid enough craft, that it's hard to say it isn't at least technically GOOD. But I think I'm much much more interested in a new GL, then I am of any of this dangling-threads from "Blackest Night" stuff going on. Frankly, I think that Geoff really doesn't have a solid post-BN game plan in the way that the build-up to it was.
I think I've said this before, but I for one, would like to have a few months of someone with a wish-making ring socking bank robbers in the jaw again -- Green Lantern has kind of stopped being anything other than just technical things about Green Lanterns, which isn't so exciting, really.
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL ANNUAL #1: Annual # only, for that matter, since the parent book was actually cancelled.
This one is a weird one, since it seems to set a new storyline/direction for Blue Beetle (but this isn't his comic... he wasn't in it before this issue!), as well as what seemed to be erasing Booster Gold from continuity because of the kiss in JL #12 (wait, what?), which continues this weird string of feeling like they're just making this shit up as the go along up there in the editorial offices.
Half of the characters seem crazy out-of-character to me -- especially Guy, and the seemingly contradictory stuff with Booster (his conversation with Godiva insists he's a fraud, but then in his last scene, it implies there's a plan) -- but it also wants to set up a new threat from Brother Eye and his new "programmer", I dunno -- this is all over the map. And I thought it was pretty EH for that.
SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1: And here's another "Are they just making this shit up days before it prints"? This comic bears zero resemblance to what was solicited:
"• Abducted by a group of mysterious aliens, Superman is dragged to a remote alien galaxy to take part in THE GAMES, a world hopping game of cat-and-mouse where players are hunted for sport. • Can even the help of a mysterious new GREEN LANTERN overcome the might of an alien empire?""(W) Keith Giffen (A) Cafu (CA) Tyler Kirkham, Matt Batt Banning"
Yeah, that's not what is here -- THIS is by Lobdell and Nicieza and Pascal Alixe, and seems to be happening in a different universe than JL (there's a thought balloon that seems to be saying how much he loves Lois Lane, for example), but this is all about Hellspont, and Daemonites, and why they're bad asses, and, oh did we mention that they're responsible for the meta-gene on earth, no?
Then there's a lot of checking in with all of the various aliens living on earth, but none of it amounts to anything, and we're left with crying angsty Superman whining in space about he's so alone and no one loves him and whatever.
Holy fuck, why is it that DC seems to have no idea whatsoever what to do with Superman, or what makes him appealing in the first place? He's their flagship character, for crying out loud! (some wag suggested to me yesterday that they're waiting for the new movie to see if they'll tell them who Superman is)
I also have to wonder about this whole Daemonite-centric push that's going on here -- is this Boss Jim Lee insisting on something from the top down, or is this mid-level editors trying to suck up to the boss, I wonder? I'm not sure which would be worse, frankly, but I do know that the Daemonites in general, and Hellspont in particular, are really not a very interesting antagonist.
If you're not clear, I thought this was a pretty AWFUL comic book.
FLASH ANNUAL #1: Like GL, a story-driven culmination annual, which is how they should be. One problem here is that I think most of the (ugh) draw of the book is Francis Manapul's art, and he couldn't do more than layouts for this one.
More broadly, I think Flash is possibly the most ill-served New 52 book with the "five year gap" -- it's really evident here as these Rogue's share nothing more than names with any version that we know. They try gamely to fill in some of the backstory we've never read, as flashbacks, but it holds about as much dramatic weight as filled-in flashbacks could offer -- that is, not much, really. These aren't "our" Rogues.
Much like Aquaman, I haven't any real sense of just who this Barry Allen is. It's been masked by some downright heavenly art and layout (especially), but I really need to have an emotional investment in the characters that I read serialized fiction about.
And I barely have that for any DC character, a year later. I call this merely OK
That's what I think at least, what about YOU?
It's a post about comics! Is it early? Is it late? Time is in flux!Only if one man can face his Pull List can The Balance be restored!
ACTION COMICS #6 “When Superman Learned To Fly” by By Andy Kubert/John Dell(a), Grant Morrison(w), Brad Anderson(c) and Patrick Brosseau(l) and “Last Day” by Chriscross(a), Sholly Fish(w), Jose Vallarubia(c) and Carlos M. Mangual(l) (DC Comics, $3.99) Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
I like that stuff in my comics but I'm not unaware that in real life that kind of thinking gets you killed.
While there could be said to be many faults with the lead story in this issue such as an apparent attempt to distract from a lack of clarity (or indeed even sense) with a belligerently unslackening pace and art that once again belies Andy Kubert's alleged superstar status it remains a fact that in this story Superman's enemies conduct an auction for Kryptonite within Superman's own brain (physically, literally within Superman's own brain) and Superman uses his own Kryptonite poisoned body as a battery to save his both his own sentient ship and the day entire. Yes, Superman's enemies conduct an auction for Kryptonite within Superman's own brain (physically, literally within Superman's own brain) and Superman uses his own Kryptonite poisoned body as a battery to save his both his own sentient ship and the day entire. That's Superman comics enough for me!
The backup is the kind of sweet and tender emotional snapshot of a transitional moment in life that anyone under forty will treat as though it were sentient dog-muck hellbent on French kissing them; that's okay because I enjoyed it enough for y'all! Yup, ACTION COMICS was GOOD!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
ALL-STAR WESTERN #6 “Beneath The Bat-Cave” by Moritat(a), Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti(w), Gabriel Bautista(c) and Rob Leigh(l) and “The Barbary Ghost Part 3” by Phil Winslade(a), Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti(w), Dominic Regan(c) and Rob Leigh(l) (DC Comics, $3.99) Jonah Hex created by John Albano and Tony Dezuniga. The Barbary Ghost created by Gray, Palmiotti and Winslade
Kids! How many owls can you spot!
Thank the Great Spirit! Next issue ol' bacon face is off to N'Orleans! where there will no doubt be "gumbo" galore but at least there won't be anymore shoehorning of Batman references into a book that doesn't need them. A cave beneath Wayne Manor! Filled with Bats! This cretinous continuity reached a kind of hilarious nadir with the sudden slew of references to Owls: because Batman is currently encountering stress of a strigiform stripe by all accounts in the here and now! So we get about two pages in which the characters can barely move around the mansion setting for all the owls dangling, roosting, flopping and just plain flailing around the place. It's as though Moritat has snapped and gone "You want owls? Here! Here are your owls! Got enough owls yet? I don't think so! Owls! Here! Now! In your face! All! Owls! Touch them! Touch my owls! Tell me they're pretty! Owls!" and then gone for a long lie down. Stupid owls. Anyway I'm a little bit partial to Jonah so it was still OKAY!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
ANIMAL MAN #6 “Tights” by Jean Paul Leon & Travel Foreman/Jeff Huett(a), Jeff Lemire(w), Lovern Kindzierski(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l) (DC Comics,$2.99) Animal Man created by Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino
Movie Cliche #23415678: Sad Dad at fridge with beer and photo of son. Collect the set!
Tricky one this. Has Jeff Lemire done a pitch-perfect satire of the vapid screenwriting cliches that have run roughshod over comics beautiful storytelling devices or does he actually believe this is a decent film script made comics? It's hard to tell isn't it. Heck, I don't know maybe you thought it was awesome? Luckily it's easy to tell that Jean Paul Leon is an awesome artist and hopefully one day he will draw comics as awesome as WINTER MEN again. This issue is a complete waste of time and is clearly a fill-in so next issue we should be back to Travel Foreman and his nightmarish body horror.
After I read the previous issue I fell into a light doze and dreamt about a man in a chair. I was holding the man in the chair via the power of some unknown threat. The man was crying and peeling his own skin off his own face with a small knife. I was then forcing him to eat it via the unspoken promise that if he did as I asked he could go free. The fact that the man was eating his own face was terrible but the worst thing was that we both knew I was lying and he wasn't leaving alive. But he had no choice but to do as I asked because that was his only hope. Yes, it's been a trying few months. They say there's nothing as boring as listening to someone else's dreams but they forgot about reading film scripts masquerading as comics which is so boring such comics are EH!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST (BUT WATCH IT)!
BATWOMAN#6 “To Drown The World - Part One” by Amy Reeder/Rob Hunter/Richard Friend(a) J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman(w), Guy Major(c) and Todd Klein(l) (DC Comics,$2.99) Batwoman created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff (modern version by Greg Rucka and Alex Ross).
"Given the state of your medical insurance talking's about all you can afford so knock yourself out is my advice."
Wuh-hoof! That's certainly a change in artist alright. I'll stick it out for a bit because I always like people to get a fair shake of the critic stick. Initially I'm not finding myself a fan of Reeder's thin line but I appreciate her attempts to step up her layouts. Given the writing is competent at best (actually that's a compliment in today's world o'comics) Reeder's got it all on her to raise this one up from EH!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST (FOR NOW!)
DAREDEVIL #9 By Paolo Rivera/Joe Rivera(a), Mark Waid(w), Javier Rodriguez(c) and VC’s Joe Caramagna(c) (Marvel Comics, $2.99) Daredevil created by Bill Everett and Stan Lee.
Storytelling in 'Not Dead' shock!
Unless Howard Victor Chaykin has been reactivated without my knowledge I guess this is the only Marvel comic I'm buying. That doesn't seem right, I'll have to check. Anyway, I'm buying this because Mark Waid understands that the bit with the boot is funnier and cleverer because it only takes up one panel. It's because Rivera Jnr and Snr make all kinds of spooky magic happen on these pages. It's because together the team on the book achieve the kind of synergy that results in the storytelling stuff from which the above image is but a sample. Yup, DAREDEVIL is a purchase because it is VERY GOOD!
(Hey, I hear Chris Samnee is coming aboard! I told you all I'd wait for him!)
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
DEMON KNIGHTS #6 “The Balance” by Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha with Oclair Albert(a), Paul Cornell(w), Marcelo Maiolo(c) and Jared K. Fletcher(l)(DC Comics, $2.99) The Demon created by Jack Kirby. Shining Knight originally created by Creig Flessel (modern incarnation created by Simone Bianchi and Grant Morrison). Vandal Savage created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell. Madame Xanadu created by Michael William Kaluta.
His reply is actually quite funny but I'm still baling.
Nah. I'm done. It just didn't work for me. Which is a shame as it wasn't terrible as such it just never gelled. Way too diffuse and lacking in focus both from a scripting and art standpoint. I mean, how big was this village, where was everything in relation to everything else? But like I say it wasn't terrible and I wish all involved well and hope the book works out further down the line but there are plenty of books I can read that aren't EH! And that's where my money's got to go. It's the Law of The Direct Market; savage and unrestrained!
STATUS: OFF THE LIST!
FATALE Number Two By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Dave Stewart (Image Comics, $3.50) Fatale created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
...probably because for some odd reason she's drawn to look about 8 years old and acts as subtly as a silent movie siren?
People tend to refer to books by this team as "Brubaker" books don't they? Which is odd as I find Brubaker to be the least of the appeal they hold. I guess it's that whole Cult of The Writer thing or something. Hey now, hang on, I'm not saying Brubaker isn't good. He's got craft/technique/skill/whatever we're calling it now in spades it's just the result is, for me, mostly solid rather than inspired. Except when he gets Meta which is when the wheels start wobbling like they're about to pitch a fit (remember INCOGNITO where working in an office was "like" doing Indie comics but taking to the streets and letting your inner nature run wild was "like" working in the mainstream? Really? Um.). On the whole though I get well crafted genre staples served up with a slight twist but the real pleasure I get from this team's comics is in the form of Phillips and Stewart in conjunction with Brubaker. I'm not going to just roll around showing my belly because it hasn't got capes'n'tights in it, okay?
Here, I guess the High Concept (sigh) is Crime and Horror - together! Like Hope and Cosby! Like Morecambe and Wise! Which is fine because,hey, I like both. I'm not sure they belong smushed together though except as one of those novelty type deals. Y'know, all those Steve Niles things Steve Niles does. I guess Crime fiction tells us about the worst in ourselves and so does Horror fiction; they just use different tools. Using both sets just seems like doubling up and risking the results seeming lesser. Early days though, I mean, look at what porting Horror tropes into Crime did for James Ellroy ($$$$ is what it did, kids. Woof! Woof!). I don't think we're looking at an Ellroy here but we may be looking at an Angel Heart. And that's fine. I got a thing about chickens, Mr. Cyphre; as in I don't like to count them too soon but this one looks GOOD! so far.
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT of S.H.A.D.E. #6 “The Siege of S.H.A.D.E. City – Part One” by Alberto Ponticelli(a), Jeff Lemire(w), Jose Villarrubia(c) and Travis Lanham(l) (DC Comics, $2.99) Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E created by Doug Mahnke and Grant Morrison (and Mary Shelley).
I am always happy to see the word "buffoons"!
There's a bit in this issue that is pretty much a stealth WATCHMEN (by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins) reference. It's the scene in the 'Nam bar between The Comedian and Doc Manhattan but here with Franky and a red, bald dude who is, basically, Dr. Manhattan and without any pregnant woman shooting or face glassing. That is to say without any of the actual important or troubling content. I'd call that an Omen were I of a credulous nature. Otherwise it's yet another issue of Hellboy in the DCU and which is Okefenokee by me!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK#4 and #5 “In The Dark - Part Four and Finale” by Mikel Janin(a), Peter Milligan(w), Ulises Arreola(c) and Rob Leigh(l) (DC Comics, $2.99ea) John Constantine created by Alan Moore, John Totleben, Rick Veitch and Steve Bissette. Madame Xanadu created by Michael William Kaluta. Deadman created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino. Shade, The Changing Man created by Steve Ditko. Zatanna created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson. Enchantress created by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell. Dove created by Steve Ditko. Mindwarp created by Peter Milligan.
Stealth WATCHMEN reference#2. We get it, DC! You WIN!
I haven't enjoyed this. It's all been a bit like warmed-over '90s Milligan with stuff like "In Nebraska The Pokemon come alive and the screams of the bread-cakes dance like glass-kneed OAPs." Okay, not as warmed-over '90s Milligan as that DEFENDERS#1 preview perhaps but still not terribly inspired. I mean the sheer scale of events would suggest the body count is in the hundreds of thousands not to mention the country-wide trauma involved but there's no sense of any consequences.
No, I didn't like it. I did, however, enjoy Milligan's skeevy interpretation of Deadman. I would totally read a Peter Milligan Deadman series in which Deadman acted like one of those fantastic men who pressure their missus into all kinds of sexual situations that the missus clearly isn't all that into and it's all just about the guy exerting power over her so that's she's eventually roiling around in moral squalor with only the "fact" that he loves her to keep her sane. At which point the hilarious rogue tells her she's a sl*t and leaves her to fall to pieces while he starts the whole cycle with some other vulnerable woman. I think a comic like that would bring in new readers. Sh*theads mostly, but hey, sales are down! We can't afford to be be proud anymore! Despite creepy Deadman JLA: DARK was EH!
O.M.A.C. #5 and #6 “Occasionally Monsters Accidentally Crossover” By Keith Giffen/Scott Koblish(a), Dan Didio, Jeff lemire & Keith Giffen(w), Hi-Fi(c) and Travis Lanham(l) “One More Amorous Conflict” By Scott Kolins/Scott Koblish(a), Dan Didio & Keith Giffen(w), Hi-Fi(c) and Travis Lanham(l) (DC Comics, $2.99ea) O.M.A.C. created by Jack Kirby.
It's the hot dog that makes it great!
In #5 O.M.A.C. and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E have a great big slobberknocker which entertains and amuses me on a base level which I have no shame in gratifying since I am okay with comics just being goofy, colourful fun. With #6 I realise that the main reason I like O.M.A.C is because of Keith Giffen's art because with #6 the artwork is by Scott Kolins and the only memorable thing about the issue is the fact that Leilani's breasts are pancaked in the same manner that Caroline Munro's were in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Yes, I realise that reflects badly on me as a human being but, honestly, what reflects badly on us as a society is the fact that we have fallen so low so fast that when you read The Golden Voyage of Sinbad you automatically assumed I was talking about a p*rn film rather than a children's fantasy film from the '7os. So, um, anyway O.M.A.C was GOOD!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
PUNISHERMAX#22 “War’s End” By Steve Dillon(a), Jason Aaron(w), Matt Hollingsworth(c) and VC’s Cory Pettit(l) (MAX/Marvel Comics, $3.99) The Punisher created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and John Romita Snr.
"Now that we've solved the Energy Crisis! Who's up for a brewski!"
PUNISHERMAX#22 may just be the most subversive comic I read this year. Oh, not because of the ending because...really, Jason Aaron? Really? That's your ending? We can solve all societies problems by just rising up and killing the sh*t out of other folks? Really? Heck, maybe we just need a strong leader as well? Fancy your chances do you, Jason Aaron? What a crappy ending. Mind you, I live in a country where we only arm The Police, The Army and farmers. What? No, I don't know why we arm farmers, maybe because of all the lions? Or maybe they keep being carried off by subsidies in the night. Stop getting distracted by details. So, okay, maybe that ending is a bit more reasonable over there in The Americas. If it is, I will pray for you all. Christ, that irresponsible ending.
No, PUNISHERMAX #22 may just be the most subversive comic I have read all year because of the scene involving Elektra. Elektra is at the Hand headquarters after a savage battle with Frank. Elektra has served The Hand well for many years but now Elektra needs help from The Hand. Specifically medical help. But I guess The Hand doesn't have Health Insurance for its employees and since Elektra is no longer of any use to them they have no qualms in cutting her loose in the most final of ways. Despite knowing full well the conditions of her employment Elektra is still surprised and dismayed at this turn of events. But she should have expected it, really, because that's what you get for working for Marv..I mean The Hand. Say, is something bothering you, Jason Aaron? Stuff on your mind?
Oh, PUNISHERMAX was entertaining enough and the fact that I could never reconcile the interesting parts with the witless parts of it actually made it more interesting and brought the whole thing up to GOOD!
STATUS: Cancelled or Came To A Natural End When The Author Had Told The One Frank Castle Story He Felt He Was Born To Write. (Oh, yeah!)
RASL #13 By Jeff Smith (a/w/l) (Cartoon Books, $3.50) RASL created by Jeff Smith.
There's a couple of reasons I really like RASL. There used to be pretty much just one reason; that although none of the individual elements actually seemed unique in and of themselves they were combined in such a way as to present a story notable for its novelty and also the freshness of its presentation. There are many scenes in RASL which you have seen in other stories but this is not a problem with RASL because it isn't really a problem at all unless it is a problem with all stories. It is a problem with some stories because they will just go for the default setting of said scene; the one that's floating closest to the surface of the popular imagination due to repetition and exposure via Hollywood blockbusters for example.
Look at the Avengers Vs. X-Men preview and ask yourself whether the life sappingly tedious familiarity of every scene is intentional and while you have your own attention ask also how many pages until The President says "And may God have Mercy on us all." It's all about familiarity, oh yes, I am aware it's all pitifully legitimised by claims of "homage" but that's cockrot, it's all about familiarity; giving people what they already know they like. Of course eventually familiarity forgets to put its rubber on and breeds something; contempt. Not in the case of RASL though. RASL keeps me on my toes, RASL demands something from me - attention. In return it rewards me with quality entertainment. That seems fair enough to me.
The other, more recent, reason for liking RASL is that unless Jeff Smith has some kind of catastrophic breakdown involving his identity he won't be suing himself anytime soon. Yup, RASL is VERY GOOD!
STATUS: REMAINS ON THE LIST!
STATIC SHOCK #5 and #6 “True Natures” and “Unrepentant” by Scott McDaniel/Andy Owens(a), Scott McDaniel(w), Travis Lanham & Dezi Sienty(l) and Guy Major(c) (DC Comics, $2.99ea) Static created by Dwayne McDuffie and Jean Paul Leon.
A DC writer on The Internet: Yesterday.
Well, that was certainly a stinker of a thing. I have no problem with Scott McDaniel's art by the way. Sometimes it lacks clarity but I respond well to the boldness of his line and the chunkiness of his figures. I find it quite pleasing on the whole. His writing has, however, been less than stellar. It's hard to know what to say about this disaster really except if you employ someone to write - let them write and let the artist take care of the pictures. It isn't like there's no room for synergy; the two can be responsible for both of those separate aspects but combine them when it comes to the storytelling. It's a collaborative medium, so I've heard. A mess like this just makes me sad. I'm not very savage at all because it dismays me to say STATIC SHOCK was AWFUL!
SWAMP THING#6 “The Black Queen” by Marco Rudy(a), Scott Snyder(w), Val Staples & lee Loughridge(c) and Travis Lanham(l) (DC Comics, $2.99) Swamp Thing created by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson.
This is horrible in all the wrong ways. It's nice having little shout outs to Dick Durock and Len Wein and my Nana Alice and all but, hey, where's the...well, where's anything? Splash page after splash page of nigh-contextless horror does not a narrative make. Seriously, I need to know what's going on on those pages if it's going to freak me out. Marco Rudy's art works hard to evoke the scabby nastiness of the Bissette, Veitch, Totleben years but what is going on? Something to do with rot, something to do with flesh. I'm sympathetic to the notion that specificity kills horror dead on the page but y'know I need some clue or it's just...stuff. And stuff isn't specific enough to be scary. And... The Parliament of Trees? Apparently you just walk up to them with a box of matches and, hey, game over Parliament of Trees. That's...stupid. Worst of all this turns out have just been one of those crappy origins that take six issues. Sure they could wrong foot us at the last and Abby could adopt the mantle but...it still took six issues. Six not very good issues. So yeah, SWAMP THING is EH! Moley, I just checked and it's six issues and counting to the origin, that doesn't help at all.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #3 “A Godawful Small Affair” by Wes Craig & Walter Simonson/Bob Wiacek(a), Nick Spencer(w), Hi Fi & Lee Loughridge(c) and Jared K. Fletcher (l) (DC Comics, $2.99) T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents created by Wallace (“Woody” not “Wally”) Wood and Len Brown.
STATUS: STICKING IT OUT FOR THE LAST THREE ISSUES!
So yeah, hope that was okay. If you disagree with any of it that's fine just let me know and we can throw it around like a pack of terriers with a rat. If you thought it was all totally spot-on then, Hi, Mom! Whatever happens those were my comics and that's what I thought.
Have a good week and remember to read some COMICS!
Yes, with 82% less whining, here comes Wait, What? Episode 56.1, roaring around the bend, with Graeme McMillan and myself discussing strange and unexpected topics--topics like OMAC #1, Batgirl #1, Animal Man #1, Detective Comics #1, Swamp Thing #1, Stormwatch #1 and, of course... X-Men #17. (That really should have a '?!!?' at end of that sentence, but you get the idea.) It's one hour and one second of two-fisted soft reboot action!
Wise souls have perhaps already encountered this podcast on iTunes (in which case, I hope they were struck it down and achieved instant enlightenment) but you can, of course, listen to it here through the moderns of magic science:
As always, we hope you and enjoy and appreciate your continuing patronage!